Three Daily Practices to Regain Control of Your Time

I don’t know any leader who isn’t busy. In fact, most leaders I meet tell me they have too much to do. Many routinely work 12-hour days. Some haven’t taken a vacation for years. When you ask the reason, the answer is predictable: “I’m too busy to take time off!”

Sound familiar?

Running at a rapid pace for too long puts your health and your organization at risk. Like everyone else, you need time to relax, enjoy family life, and restore your soul.

If you constantly believe you are too busy for down time, I believe I can help you “find” at least eight hours this week. Try these three simple practices every day this week.

1. Designate.

If your time-management philosophy focuses on the “next action,” you will accelerate the pace of your work but may wind up doing more of the things that don’t matter.

Avoid that by designating a priority level for each task or project.

Priority 1—Vital. That means necessary for life. This is creating new product, selling, fundraising—anything your organization cannot survive without. Do this first.

Priority 2—Important. These things matter, but the earth won’t stop turning if they don’t happen today. This is reviewing reports, networking, or organizational management. Do this second.

Priority 3—Some Value. This is the customer survey or the email from a low-priority client. Do this last.

Priority 4—No Value. Cross these items off your list.

Focus on the highest priorities first, and you’ll get more accomplished in less time—and shave at least a few hours from every week.

2. Delegate.

As a leader, your ultimate task is to direct the work of others. Determine what only you can do, and do that (these are your Priority 1 items). Delegate everything else.

Transfer ownership of lower priority tasks, and you’ll save at least half a day per week.

3. Dissociate.

At some point, you must learn to “let it go.” Delete low-value tasks, and forget them. Delegate important things, and then trust your associates. Disconnect your sense of worth from your busyness. That alone should save you an hour each day.

And, at the end of the day, turn out the lights and go home. You’ve earned a day off.

Master these “3-Ds,” and you’ll be happier, your organization will be healthier, and you’ll both be around five years from now.

What tips have you learned for setting boundaries on your time? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook!